Finding what triggers your eczema or your child’s eczema can be difficult but very important. You need to put on your detective hat. Many causes of eczema are unknown and this can create frustration with treating and managing eczema. Eczema is inherited and you or your child may have a tendency for eczema. Taking time to discover what may be triggering the eczema is NEVER a waste of time. Discovering the triggers can help you manage eczema and greatly minimize eczema symptoms.
Eczema triggers are caused by an allergen. Eczema is an allergic reaction from being in contact with the allergen. People with eczema can have an eczema flare if they come in contact with the allergen. An eczema flare means the eczema symptoms increase. Below are the most common allergens.
Foods or Ingested Allergens:
Eczema can be caused by certain foods or food allergens. This is more common in babies and young children. There is new research that suggests 1/3 to 2/3 of eczema suffers also have food allergies. Food allergies cause an allergic reaction that results in eczema. Below are some of the food groups that can trigger eczema.
- Dairy products
- Nuts and seeds
- Soy products
- Wheat or gluten
The best way to discover if you child has a food allergy is to see an Allergist. Talk to your doctor or your child’s pediatrician about seeing an Allergist.
An Elimination Diet can be very helpful in determining a food allergen or eczema trigger. Eliminating a food group entirely and watching your child’s eczema can be very helpful. For example, if you cut dairy out of your child’s diet for a week or two and the eczema improves, you can pinpoint that dairy is an eczema trigger. Only cut one food group out at a time or you will not know the trigger. Please visit WebMD for more information on an Elimination Diet (http://www.webmd.com/allergies/guide/allergies-elimination-diet)
Chemicals, fragrances, soaps, household cleaners can all be potential irritants that cause your eczema or your child’s eczema to flare. Every eczema sufferer has their own list of irritants. Below are some common irritants to consider avoiding or watching if they cause an eczema flare so you can avoid in the future.
- Soaps, detergents, dishwashing liquids
- Shampoos, body washes, bubble bath, purfume
- Disinfectants like chlorine
- Contact with juices from fresh fruits, meats, vegetables
It is best to use products that have the National Eczema Association’s Seal of Acceptance. Please visit their website for a list of approved products at (http://nationaleczema.org/eczema-products/)
Allergens are substances in the environment and when you are exposed to them you have an allergic reaction and an eczema flare. An example is: after running in the grass you get itchy, inflamed feet and ankles or after petting a cat you get itchy and watery eyes then have eczema the next day.
Below are some common environmental allergens that can affect you or your child’s eczema:
- Pets: Animals such as cats and dogs can cause an eczema flare. WebMD has a very interesting article on pets and eczema (http://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/eczema/news/20100930/study-dogs-protect-kids-at-risk-for-eczema)
- Dust mites. Incasing your bedding and removing carpet and dust collecting items from your home can really improve your eczema. Please watch this helpful video on dust mites and incasings (http://www.missionallergy.com/?fuseaction=page.display&page_id=73)
- Pollens: Does your eczema or your child’s eczema get worse at certain times of the year? If yes, pollen may be an eczema trigger. It may help to stay inside when the pollen counts are high and shut your windows and turn on the air conditioner. After spending time outside, rinse off in the shower to remove pollen and change your clothes.
- Molds: If you have eczema symptoms year round or if they get worse in damp, humid weather, mold may be a trigger. Basically, if you smell mold, you have mold and need to get rid of it. Mold in basement walls, crawl spaces, a damp carpet, in the bathroom or behind bathroom tile and even in walls can aggravate eczema. Please visit this government website for more information on mold in your home http://www.epa.gov/mold/moldguide.html.
- Hot, humid weather
- Sweat in hot, humid weather
- Cold, dry winter weather
The best way to manage eczema from extreme temperatures is daily skin maintenance. Most doctors recommend the "Soak and Seal" process to manage eczema. Shower or take a bath in lukewarm water for at least 10 minutes. Pat dry and apply an emollient immediately. Wet wrap therapy is also a great treatment for stubborn eczema. Wet wrap therapy for eczema works when all else fails. Please visit www.ADRescueWear.com for more information on wet wrap therapy for eczema. Here is an easy diagram on the "Soak and Seal" method and wet wrap therapy.
Stress and eczema go hand-in-hand. It is not fully understood how they affect each other but many eczema suffers report getting an eczema flare when they are in stressful situations. Many others report feeling stressed when they have an eczema flare. If you have eczema, stress management is very important. Here is a great article from WebMD on eczema and stress (http://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/eczema/treatment-11/eczema-stress)
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